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25. Getting In

I wash myself up, then exit the shower where he left me.

His words, while cold and off-putting, aren’t enough to push me away. Not now. Not after everything I've seen, everything I've felt.

I get into something comfortable, a pair of heavy, oversized sweat pants paired with a crop-top sweatshirt to match. Throwing my wet hair into a bun, I walk out into the living room in search of Hawke.

The living room is dark and empty, leaving me to wonder if he left. Maybe it’s too much for him to open up to me. He’s scared of his feelings just as I am, but for different reasons.

I pass the empty kitchen, then knock softly on the door to his room. It creaks open so I peak inside, but it’s dark and void of him.

With a frustrated sigh, I lean my head against the door frame when my phone alerts me to a message. I walk over to where I set my bag on the table, opening it up and pulling out my phone. It’s a message from Patrick. Instantly I feel a sense of nervousness.

Patrick: Just got word that your car is still sitting at the bar. What happened?

You’ve got to be kidding me. Someone around town notified Patrick about the whereabouts of my car? My stomach feels like it drops thirty stories as I go over my steps, wondering if anyone saw the interaction between Hawke and I down the street from the bar. I could literally vomit.

Nic: Yeah, it wouldn’t start. Hawke was at the bar with his friends, gave me a ride home. I’ll call someone from the shop to take a look at it tomorrow.

That should cover the situation a little bit, right? I anxiously await a response.

Patrick: You have to take care of your stuff so this doesn’t happen. Tell me what they say tomorrow.

Unbelievable. I roll my eyes to the back of my head, huffing out in anger. This is the message I get after he informs me with one word that he's there? There’s no, are you alright, or I’m glad Hawke was there to give you a ride, or, I’ll make sure to call the shop for you and have them figure it out. No, it’s my fault it happened, my responsibility to figure it out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine to handle it, but it would be nice if I had a partner to care enough to attempt to help me.

Then again, who am I to talk.

I hear the door behind me open so I drop my phone back into my bag abruptly. Hawke is closing the door, shrugging off his jacket. I get an immediate whiff of smoke, connecting the dots to where he just was.

“Hey,” he says, dropping his coat on the back of the chair by the door, staring at me with a solemn face.

He looks drained. Emotionally drained as if he’s been having an internal battle and is finally at the point of breaking. It pains me to see it.

“Come here,” I demand, watching him stand there, shirtless, with his hands in the pockets of his sweats.

He strides over to where I’m standing, biting his bottom lip while watching me with a cocked head. I throw a bag of Skittles at his chest and he catches it quickly, looking down, then back at me with a confused face.

“Sugar up. I’m gonna need you awake. The Ozarks aren’t gonna watch themselves.”

I grin up at him while he holds the Skittles to his chest with an easy smile taking over the previous seriousness.

It’s like an unspoken moment of truce. We don’t need to figure everything out right now. He needs me to revive him, just like he was planning to cheer me up with this night of just being together, just hanging out, as friends who need each other’s support. Now is when we enjoy this alone time we have together. I’m not letting him get away that easy.

We grab handfuls of the goodies he bought and bring them over to the blankets, setting up all the snacks in the center. We laugh, we talk about light topics of conversation, we throw popcorn into each other’s mouths. The energy is amazing, our vibes are totally in sync. We’re both being indirectly flirty and having fun, carefree fun, and I truly feel that our night has come full circle.

Hawke dusts his fingers of popcorn salt, sitting back against the base of the couch in the heap of pillows, looking at me with what I can only describe as admiration.

Maybe people just don’t know how to take a guy like Hawke. The rough exterior is barricading the kind heart inside. Inside is a soft soul, a sensitive one, one he’s taken years to build that wall around. I’m sure his life hasn’t provided much opportunity to showcase that, but I see it. I can see it in the subtle way he looks out for me. He's caring, and empathetic by nature.

“So, tell me something honest,” I say. “It can be anything, just has to be real.”

He tips his head back against the couch, looking at the ceiling while thinking. I take the opportunity to admire his throat and Adam’s apple. He’s ridiculously handsome in such a masculine way.

“Well, I didn’t quit my job. I actually got fired.”

“Hawke! What? Are you kidding? What happened!?” My jaw drops open as I lean forward to hear more.

“To be honest, they wanted to switch me to first shift, meaning I’d work normal hours during the day. I told them I didn’t want to, and that I was going to stay on third and the guy threatened to fire me if I didn’t comply. So...yeah.”

“Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you want to work normal hours? Third shift sucks.”

He rubs the back of his neck, wrinkling his forehead in the cutest way, looking from me to the wall behind me and then back. He doesn’t want to tell me.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to give up our time together.”

I stare at him in disbelief.

“If I worked first shift I’d never have you to myself, and I just couldn’t do it,” he says with squinted eyes, putting his hand in front of his lips and chewing the tip of his thumb, watching me for a reaction.

“Hawke,” I say, almost scolding him.

He gives me a weak little shrug as if he can’t help the fact that needing time with me means more to him than losing his job. Because I work from home during the day, he made it a mission to get a job working all hours of the night just to ensure we could spend our mornings alone together, sipping coffee and watching gangster flicks, even if meant he'd be drained and ridiculously tired. My heart is expanding so much inside of my chest I think I might explode around him.

“Being able to just kick it with you the past however many weeks has become my saving grace.”

I scoot up closer to him, settling between his outstretched legs, my hand resting just above his knee.

“What do you mean?”

He sighs, looking at my hand before his fingers start toying with the tips of my fingers. The feeling is sending me butterflies to the pit of my stomach.

“You’ve kept me from destroying myself more than I already am.”

I’m not going to push him, but I get the sense that maybe being with me has helped to get him out of his own head, focusing on something else besides whatever heaviness that’s bogging him down. I have a hard time believing anyone truly and actively wants to get to know Hawke for who he is. He's the bad-boy, the dangerous one with a record, used for a wild night of fun and partying. Maybe the fact that I keep trying to know makes him helps him to see his worth?

He brings my hand up to his mouth, softly kissing each one of my finger pads. My lips part as my chest rises and falls at the sensation that seems to be a direct line to my center.

“You’re up,” he mumbles against my pinky pad.

“Huh? Oh, yeah...of course. Um, something honest...” I bite the corner of my lip and decide where I want to go with this.

“Something real,” Hawke reiterates, waiting and watching.

I let out a breath and say the first thing on my mind. “I’m terrified of losing you.”

I said it. It’s true. It’s honest. It’s real. When Patrick comes back, things will change between Hawke and I. No matter the situation will be upon his return. There will be a turning point and I’m terrified that if I go about this all wrong, I’ll lose him, he’ll shell up and never let himself open up.

Hawke winces then swallows, staring at me the entire time. His eyes going back and forth between mine. Pulling my arm towards his chest, he pulls me to his lap, my legs straddling him against the bottom of the couch on the floor, knees on both sides of him. Pressing my lower back until my pelvis is flush against his, he then gently cups my jaw with both hands, resting his head against mine.

“Please don’t,” he says just above a whisper, answering my statement.

I pull my head back a little to look into his eyes. There’s such a need there. A need I want nothing more than to satisfy. He doesn’t want to lose me either. He’s been thinking about it, how things will change when Patrick comes back.

“Hawke, I—”

He presses his lips against mine, capturing my words into the kiss. His hand snakes around the back of my neck while the other wraps around my lower waist. I feel him press into me with his hips, and I can tell he’s hard for me.

I moan against his lower lip, sucking his lip ring between my teeth, then freeing it as his lip snaps back. He rests his head back against the seat of the couch, eyeing me curiously.

I dip down to his neck, placing open mouthed kisses all along the pulsating vein. With his chest rising and falling, he swallows, almost as if it makes him nervous.

“Are you alright?” I ask softly, looking him in the eye again, running my hands through the hair at the top of his head.

His hands settle at my hips as he looks up at me with desire flowing out of those ocean eyes. “I’m not alright. I’ll never be right again.”

Everything about him is so momentous, so significant, so weighty. Everything inside of me wants to lunge out, trying to grasp anything that can connect us on a level unknown to me. How is it that simply looking into another’s eyes can bring you a type of nostalgia from a past you’ve never known, a terrifying comfort that doesn’t feel earned yet? I feel home with him in a way I’ve always tried to find home before this.

He studies my face before sliding his hands up my hips, up my back, underneath my sweater, pressing his palms to my skin, softly dragging until reaching my neck. He pulls me back to his lips, needing mine on his to feel complete again.

“You do something crazy to me,” he says between kisses, his hands finding the edge of my sweater and pulling it up.

I pull back from the kiss to allow him to take it off. He removes my bra, unclasping it from behind, letting the straps fall free down my arms, leaving me exposed, feeling vulnerable in the light. I immediately cross my arms over myself.

“Cole, don’t. You’re so beautiful,” he whispers before running a hand from the side of my neck down my chest, his arm between my breasts and placing his palm directly over my heart.

He kisses me again, holding his hand there in the most intimate touch. His other hand grabs mine and places it on his bare chest, holding his heart as our tongues dance above them to the increased tempo.

I’ve never felt more connected to someone than I do to him in this moment.

Our kiss continues until I feel faint with lust. I’m so totally consumed by him in every way. There’s an unspoken connection we share and it’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever felt.

I roll my hips forward into his lap, needing to be closer, earning a deep groan from him. Slipping to the side of him, I remove my sweatpants with his help and return to the warm place on his lap wearing nothing at all.

His large, veiny hands find my exposed thighs and run their way up my entire frame. My skin tingling with every touch, the sensation giving me chills. He inhales a breath and lets it out when his eyes finally reach mine, seemingly overwhelmed.

“It just never stops,” he says softly, running his thumb over my bottom lip.

“What’s that?” I question, cocking my head slightly to the side.

“Every second with you makes me need another,” he says, as if he’s pained by the thought.

I pause, my heart aching in my chest.

I reach between us, running my hand slowly down his firm chest towards the tented area in his sweats. While staring directly into his eyes, I pull his pants down with his help until we are finally pressed up against each other in only the form we were created.

“Never stop,” I whisper against his lips.

“Never stop what?” he asks, trailing his fingers up and down my back.

“Needing me,” I say, before we fall back into our kiss like we never left it.

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